12 Sep 2023 - 13 Sep 2023  |  Philipp Schorch, Diego Muñoz & Serge Tcherkézoff

(Re)mapping “the Pacific”: Cartographies, disciplines, languages

Centre de Recherche et de Documentation sur l'Océanie (CREDO), Aix-Marseille Université, Marseille, France

The labels “Pacific” or “Oceania” are Euro-American inventions, and the associated “foreign representations” deriving from and feeding into visionary attempts at imagining the Pacific or Oceania continue to be contested through Indigenous perspectives, concepts, and paradigms. “Melanesia”, invented by Jean Baptiste Bory de Saint-Vincent, “Micronesia”, coined by Bartolomeo Borghi, and “Polynesia”, termed by Charles de Brosses, as categories of history, remain controversial to this day. Recent research has paid close attention to life worlds and cultural practices to highlight the moment and processes of reimagining. This has facilitated the reimagining of Oceania on the analytical plane through empirical insights into insider conceptualizations, such as Te-moana-nui-o-Kiwa or Hawai‘i-nui-akea, instead of perpetuating the predominant imposition of outsider cartographies, maps, and other visions and imaginaries.

In this project, we focus on the relationship between (re)imagining and (re)mapping the Pacific through cartographies, disciplines and languages. This includes transpacific ‘cartographic incursions’ into the Americas, such as those associated with the colonial incorporation of Hawai‘i into the USA and Rapa Nui into Chile, as well as those linked to scientific ambitions to prove the “Amerindian” origin of “Polynesian” people. On the cartographic level, the workshop will examine the tensions between Indigenous cosmologies and sacred geographies, on the one hand, and Cartesian logics and hegemonic cartographies, on the other. In what ways have geographic sensibilities configured ways of being and moving in historical and contemporary contexts? How have Indigenous knowledges and non-Euclidean cartographic practices challenged, disrupted, and bent to modern forms of scientific production? On the level of the disciplinary, we ask how anthropology, archaeology, art history, geography, history etc. have each remapped their own Pacific, e.g. through aesthetic and material geographies. How have those disciplinary interventions responded to and engaged with cross-disciplinary re-framings and Indigenous re-articulations? Last but not least, we consider languages - both Indigenous and colonial - as fundamentally important dimensions to engage in order to trace ancient conceptualizations and reactivate those for contemporary concerns and future (re)imaginations and (re)mappings. What happens when, for example, Rapanui and Sāmoan genealogical relations and cosmological foundations are inscribed in French and German archival records? And what does it take bring multilingual and trans-media resources back to life? To find answer to these and related questions, we assemble a group of scholars who work in different languages, disciplines and cartographic registers, and who are united in their effort to (re)map “the Pacific”, once again.

See the workshop programme for more information.